In 1863, a group of prospectors, led by A. H. Peeples and guided by mountain man Pauline Weaver, found acres of gold nuggets on a mesa top located just southeast of present day Yarnell. Given the name "Rich Hill', it was here that the richest placer gold discovery in Arizona was made. Before gold was discovered, Tolkepaya or Western Yavapai including: Hakupakapa or Inyokapa (inhabitants of Weaver Mountains) populated the area. The name "Yavapai" came from enyae'va, "sun," and pai, "people," thus signifying "People of the Sun". These peaceful people were hunters and gatherers, living off natures abundance in the beautiful countryside.
With the discovery of gold, more fortune hunters started invading the area, searching for that illusive mineral. Word soon got out about the rich pastureland, good climate and the abundance of water and more settlers came.
The Yavapai soon felt their sanctuary threatened and trouble began. Warlike Apache from other areas invaded the Yavapai and the settlers. Since all Indians were considered alike, there was no distinction between peaceful and warrior tribes. The white people practically annihilated the peaceful Yavapai in the cause of "Manifest Destiny". The famous Indian fighter, General Crook, with a detachment of cavalry from Camp/Fort McDowell took part in this. Those Yavapai who managed to survive the army attacks were relocated to the Verde River Agency in May, 1873.
By 1892 a post office was established in what was then Harper's Flat, on the stage road next to a trading post and saloon. According to old documents and records, it was in the vicinity of the present day Ranch House Restaurant and St. Mary's Catholic Church. Across the road from these buildings was one of the many stage stops along this route. Teams were transferred here after the grueling trip up the hill from Stanton and Octave. Travelers with an appetite for rustic adventure may still follow this route, using care on the single lane dirt road. Prospector Harrison Yarnell struck gold near Antelope Peak, east of the town that was to bear his name, in 1889. Growth of the small town was slow and steady, unlike neighboring boom and bust ghost towns
Surrounding regions, easily accessible by good highways, include Skull Valley, Hillside, Kirkland and Bagdad. For the adventurous, there are gravel roads to Wagoner and Crown King. The map also shows a route which takes in Phoenix, Prescott, Sedona, Wickenburg and Jerome. Starting at any point on this scenic circle, the round trip can be made in a single day. Those with special interests and time will find accommodations to make it possible to explore extensively. Much of the pleasure to be derived from such ventures is to be found away from the main highway.
In May of each year Yarnell Daze is a festive celebration which includes a parade, entertainment, dancing, antique automobile show, food fun, and frolic for visitors and townspeople alike.
The centennial year for Yarnell was 1992. A book was compiled and printed and is available. A coloring book about the area was printed.
A history of pioneer Charles Genung of Peeples Valley, DEATH IN HIS SADDLEBAGS has been published by his grandson. The book details stories of incidents of the Yarnell, Peeples Valley area and a biographical history of the territory of Arizona from 1863 until statehood in 1912.